Friday, 20 October, 2017

US Says It Will Withdraw From UNESCO, Citing 'Anti-Israel Bias'

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington Wednesday VN exits race for UNESCO chief position
Wilma Wheeler | 13 October, 2017, 00:30

"Just as we said in 1984 when President Reagan withdrew from UNESCO", Haley added, "U.S. taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our values and make a mockery of justice and common sense".

In 2011, the United States stopped funding Unesco due to what was then a forgotten, 15-year-old amendment mandating a complete cutoff of American financing to any United Nations agency that accepts Palestine as a full member.

In October 2016, Israel suspended its ties with UNESCO after the organization voted in favor of a resolution that warns over the escalating violence around the holy site in East Jerusalem, a territory that Israel seized in 1967 and annexed shortly later.

"UNESCO is about promoting our ideals and values through culture, education and science", France's United Nations ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters in NY, adding that "we need an America that stays committed to world affairs".

Hours later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would quit too, calling the USA decision "brave and moral".

UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) head Irina Bokova has said the organization had received an official notification from Washington that the United States will withdraw from the organization.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is also planning to withdraw from the body, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's office.

While the USA stopped funding Unesco after it voted to include Palestine as a member in 2011, the state department has maintained a Unesco office at its Paris headquarters and sought to weigh in on policy behind the scenes.

Travelers are likely to be most familiar with Unesco through its world heritage sites such as the Grand Canyon National Park and Yellowstone National Park in the US.

France's U.N. ambassador, Francois Delattre, had urged the United States to remain in UNESCO this week, saying the United States "must stay committed to world affairs".

In a statement released Thursday, the State Department said the move won't take effect for more than a year, noting the withdrawal will be as of December 31, 2018.

She paid tribute to what she said had been a meaningful relationship between UNESCO and the USA, saying: "since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful". Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley has repeatedly denounced these actions, and said the US was "evaluating" whether or not it should continue as a member of the organization. In 2002, George W Bush joined UNESCO again, and in 2011, Barack Obama cut most United States funding to UNESCO due to the organization's recognition of Palestine.

America has made a decision to withdraw from Unesco, the United Nations programme responsible for corralling global cooperation on issues such as science and education and designating world heritage sites.

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